Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Underhand consultation on plans to scrap rural phone boxes

Yet another service in the rural areas is under threat – this time telephone boxes! I’ve been aware for a few weeks that the boxes in Church Eaton and Marston are likely to be removed, and I have already written to BT voicing my objection to the plan given that the area has such poor mobile phone coverage.

However on Saturday I received my copy of the Council’s Members Digest which contained a report from the Council’s Planning Manager setting out BT removal plans and saying that objections had to be returned by 12th July. This certainly set alarm bells ringing.

Firstly the list of telephone boxes down for removal was large, with the boxes at Haughton, Derrington, Knightly, Norbury, Outwoods, and Bromstead also included. In total 33 telephone boxes in the Borough area are down for removal!

Secondly the return date for objections given in the various boxes had already passed - 13th June and not the 12th July as was in the Council’s note. To make matters worse the notices in the box say objections should be sent to the Planning department at the Local Authority who will collate the returns. However BT don’t say who the Authority is or give the address!

So what exactly is happening? Well having now made more enquiries the whole consultation process seems to be little more than a farce! BT have given the public one set of dates and no address where the objections should be sent and the Council have completely different dates and are wondering why they have not received more that a handful of responses.

I for one just wonder whether this is complete incompetency on behalf of BT or just a cleaver scheme to insure there is little opposition the their plans!

A complete list of all the phone boxes in Stafford Borough which are under threat can be found else where on my web-site just follow this link http://www.barrystamp.co.uk/telephoneboxes.html

Friday, June 13, 2008


What is the true cost of the planning appeal process

Yesterday I had a telephone call from a reporter on a local newspaper asking about the appeal that has just been lodged against the Council’s decision to refuse planning permission to build a new dwelling on a piece of land in Church Eaton.

While an appeal is not really big news the difference with this one was that it is the fifth appeal on this particular site. The site in question is rather narrow but is even more constrained by the fact that a sewer and a culvert run through it and as such the other four appeals were all refused by the Planning Inspector for a variety of reasons.

The newspaper rang to talk about how much these appeals were costing the ratepayer, especially as the latest was going to be dealt with by way of a public hearing. Unfortunately I was not much help so I had to refer the caller to the Council’s Planning Department.

What is clear is that as the Planning laws stand the owner of any site can keep putting in planning applications so long as they are significantly different and if refused can keep going to appeal. While there will be little or no cost to the applicant the Council will have to pay for officers time to collect together the information the Planning Inspector wants, and as is the case with this latest appeal will have to pay for the officers to attend the hearing.

Of course the planning system is rather one-sided and had any of the applications on this site been approved the local residents who had objected to the proposal would not have had the same chance to appeal against the decision. So which ever way you look at it the local residents and council tax payers who come off worse in this appeal process.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Conservatives miss Post Office closure dead-line

Yet again Stafford Conservatives have shown just how inept they are when it comes to keeping to a dead-line.

In a blaze of local publicity Jeremy Lafroy proudly announced that accompanied by County Councillor Mark Winnington he was off to London to deliver a petition signed by local people opposed to post office closures.

Unfortunately what the Tories seemed to have forgotten was that the final date for public consultation on the closure plans was Monday 9th June. They made the journey to London on Tuesday 10th !

One local resident of Great Bridgeford has already asked me why Conservatives had failed to realise they were 24 hours late. Unfortunately I couldn’t give him an answer!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Roads melt in the hot weather

Last summer the roads between Haughton and Church Eaton and Haughton and Derrington were resurfaced, but for some inexplicable reason the new surface did not adhere to the out road correctly. As residents will know within days large amounts of loose chippings were damaging vehicles and smooth bald tarmac patches were appearing on most bends. Since that time the situation has got no better and I am contantly getting complaints.

However the really hot weather of the past few days has brought a new problem as the exposed tar melted! Driving along Long Lane was just like driving on treacle and I, like a lot of other residents have since been struggling to remove tar spots from my car

When I first raised the problem with the County Council last year they agreed there was a problem and they promised that remedial work would be carried out as part of this years road maintenance programme. They also told me that these two roads were not the only one in Staffordshire to be affected and that other local authorities across the Country were also having similar problems.

What is even more worrying is that no one seems willing to take responsibility for any damage that might be caused to vehicles. Only last week I heard from one resident who had tried to make an insurance claim against the Council only to have the details passed to the Contractors who carried out the work. They in turn said they were not responsible and he should pursue his claim through the Council!

This situation cannot continue and it really is time the County Council not only held their hands up and admitted they and their contractors were at fault and that they would pay for any damage but that they would also make resurfacing the two roads their top priority!

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Residents worried about possible increase in heavy vehicle numbers

There is certainly growing unrest in Haughton and Gnosall over the possibility that once the new international rail freight terminal is open in Telford more heavy lorries will use the A518. This will have a devastating effect on the narrow stretch of road at the Coton end of Gnosall, where it is impossible for two heavy lorries to pass without one mounting the pavement. As well as this residents of Haughton are also worried about the added dangers and the prospect that traffic speeds through the Village might increase yet again! Action needs to be taken now, not when the extra traffic starts to use the road. The County Council must be made to think about how they are going to deal with this problem now and be allowed to sit back and pretend that everything will be OK. Arriving at a solution which will not only be beneficial to Haughton and Gnosall but will also not mean the problem and dangers are just pushed on to neighbouring communities will not be easy. However there is still time to look at all the options and not be forced to grab at the first one that comes to mind just because there is no time left to make a proper decision.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Does Tory panic show real commitment?

One really does have to ask just how committed the Conservatives on the Council are to trying to ensure Post Office services remain in those areas of the Borough that have been told their current Post Office is to close.

At the Council meeting in April it was unanimously agreed that a letter should be sent to the Government objecting to the Post Office closure plans and asking for more time to be given to allow proper consultation with the residents who would be affected. However despite all the harsh words that were spoken in the meeting that night and the plethora of press stories about the Tories local campaign to save those Post Offices under threat, it took a month before the letter was finally sent!

At the same meeting it was agreed to set-up an all party working group to look at ways of both fighting the closures and if necessary to try to find alternative ways of providing the service. Since that day I have asked time and time again when the first meeting of the group was going to be held. Well surprise, surprise – on Wednesday I received a letter say the meeting was taking place at 2.30pm on Thursday. Talk about last minute panic! However it seems that the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for resources had just discovered that the deadline for public comment on the Post Office closure plans ended next Monday, so if the meeting had not been called then it would have been too late for the Council to get their comments in!

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